Monday, May 30, 2005
France overwhelmingly rejected the European Union constitution on Sunday, pitching the EU into crisis and dealing a potentially fatal blow to a charter designed to make the enlarged bloc run smoothly... Chirac swiftly conceded defeat in a televised address to the nation as the "No" camp celebrated a crushing victory with about 55 percent of votes to 45 percent.Many (including the Reuters report quoted above) are already portraying the result as more a referendum on Chirac and the current "right-wing" French government than on the EU constitution, but this is a circular argument: the French political establishment is so thoroughly "European" in their outlook and policies that a vote against one is clearly a vote against the other.
As one of Instapundit readers, Jonathan Smith, wrote: "I have yet to see an American blogger that has recognized that a lot of people that voted Non want France to be a MORE socialist state. It's a fear that the EU will be more capitalist." I can't speak for American bloggers, but I touched on this issue a few times over the last week.
For whatever reason, however, the European project is floundering but it won't stop the politicians. As Poles like to say: the situation is critical but not serious.
EUlites: Who cares? To quote Celine Dion, "My heart will go on", even as the Eurotitanic keeps running into the iceberg of public opinion.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg (as Dan Foty, whom I hat tip here, writes: "Luxembourg isn't really a country - it's a bank that happens to be big enough to have its own airport.") who currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said before the results started rolling in: "If it is a 'Yes' we carry on; if it is a 'No' we carry on." (to which "The Daily Telegraph" commented: "There you have it: as neat a statement of the EU's guiding philosophy as you could ask for. The project is far too important to be denied by the ballot box.")
Juncker is becoming a bit of a poster-boy for what's wrong with the European project as currently envisaged, having also made a guest appearance in the latest Mark Steyn column:
"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.Or take Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, the European Commission spokesman (hat tip: John Kennett): "The procedures have been completed in nine countries representing over 220 million citizens. That is almost 49 percent of EU population. The Commission thinks this is a very important reason why the ratification procedures should go forward." Thus the EU has seemingly decided to skip the boring middle bit of actually getting there, and is assuming that Europe is already one state where majority of the total population decides, instead of majorities in each of the member states.
Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right. Even America's bossiest nanny-state Democrats don't usually express their contempt for the will of the people quite so crudely.
For more examples of Euro-absurdities you can always visit No Pasaran, (which also notes that the referendum coincided with Patrick Henry's birthday), including this wonderful mention of a Dutch Member of European Parliament who thinks that voting could actually be undemocratic, at least when people are voting "no". Where are you, George Orwell?
I can actually understand - and evesympathizese - with some of the motivations behind the drive towards greater European integration. Europe has had lousy history, particularly over the last century, and many among the EUlites as well as ordinary people believe that the only way to ensure "never again" is to submerge European nation states in a pan-continental, post-modern, utopian structure where the enlightened few will forever keep away conflict, violence, rivalry and nationalism, the four horsemen that have traditionally plagued European history.
These are all laudable aims - after all, no one wants to see Europe go through another major war, hot or cold. It's just that creating a superstate - however well meaning - won't do. The EUlites have decided that it's the people who are the problem; they're the hotheaded bunch that has to be kept in check if Europe is to experience lasting peace, and they cannot be allowed to now sabotage the project to end all wars by voting "no" to further integration. The problem is that it has never been "the people" who had plunged Europe into conflict but their rulers, so transferring more power to increasingly less accountable politicians doesn't seem like the best solution to the problem, even if those politicians like to think of themselves as our virtuous betters.